Dear friends of Habitat,

It is my pleasure to send you warm greetings as the newly appointed Board Chair of Habitat for Humanity Japan. I would like to thank our donors, partners and volunteers who have contributed to our vision of “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” I am honored to lead Habitat for Humanity Japan in building strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter in the Asia-Pacific region.

I first joined Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer in 2009. Together with our then young daughters, my husband and I visited a village in Thailand where Habitat volunteers were going to work with a family in need of decent housing. The three-generation family comprised 12 people who were living in a small room with only a wood-burning kitchen outside and no sanitation facility. We worked with members of the family and a carpenter to build a simple home. Beginning with the concrete floor, we went on to build brick walls, two rooms, a kitchen and a septic tank toilet. Members of the family and their neighbors brought us snacks and food as we carried sacks of cement and large bricks.

While the poverty was shocking, the family and their neighbors made us feel deeply appreciated. We played with the children and gradually we were accepted into their small community. Every day the family members had more smiles on their faces as they saw their new home take shape. When the house was finished, many cried out of joy and we felt we had received far more than we had given to the family. We were so impressed with this project that we later built homes in Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Since our inception in 2003, we have supported thousands of families, thanks to our volunteers and donors. In 2017, Habitat Japan sent a record number of Global Village volunteers – more than 1,200 – to build homes in the Asia-Pacific region. We also serve our communities in Tokyo through Project HomeWorks by cleaning or rehabilitating the homes of the vulnerable elderly or those with disabilities living alone in cluttered and unhygienic houses. I have lived and worked in Tokyo for 15 years and I am pleased to see Habitat Japan continuing to improve people’s living conditions. Together with the excellent and committed staff and volunteers of Habitat Japan, we aim to extend Japan’s Omotenashi spirit to help more people in need.

A Swedish proverb goes like this: “Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” We all have exciting and joyful moments in our lives. At the same time, each of us may face difficulties. Joyful or sad, we know we are not alone for we work side by side with our committed donors, partners and volunteers to ensure that everyone has a decent place to live”. Together, we can build a brighter future for families and more sustainable communities. Through shelter, we empower.

Yours sincerely,

Cecilia Melin
Board Chair
Habitat for Humanity Japan